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Ontario's patient ombudsman to investigate long-term care after receiving 150 complaints
TORONTO -- Ontario's patient ombudsman is launching an investigation into the province's long-term care homes after receiving more than 150 complaints about residents' experiences during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The office said the investigation would look into staffing levels at long-term care home, the restrictions placed on visitors during the pandemic, the efforts to prevent and control the spread of the virus and the communication of information to residents and their caregivers.
The announcement comes one day after Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube launched his own investigation of the government's handling of the COVID-19 crisis in long-term care homes and the underlying factors that contributed to more than 1,600 deaths.
Craig Thompson, Executive Director of the Patient Ombudsman's office, said their investigation would look specifically at the experiences of residents and their caregivers and would be separate from the ombudsman's work.
"We feel that this investigation will help long-term care homes prepare for future outbreaks of infectious diseases, including COVID-19,” Thompson said.
The Doug Ford government has yet to fill the role of Patient Ombudsman, after it was vacated by now-Health Minister Christine Elliott in early 2018.
Elliott acknowledged in May that during her time in the position the office received complaints about "care, coordination and staffing" at the province's 626 long-term care homes but said none of the issues rose to the level of the current crisis.
An independent commission, launched by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, will be another investigation into long-term care in July.
Ford has promised to appear as a witness, if called by the commission.